The very first person we are featuring in our “Meet The Media Buyer” series is Chris Cole, Founder of Internet ROI. This will be a monthly series where we will interview successful advertisers and savvy media buyers.
I had a chance to speak to Chris who has been involved in online marketing since 2005. He’s dabbled in everything from Adsense arbitrage, to corporate SEO, to affiliate marketing, to media buying. He recently left Hungry Fish Media where he served as the Director of Customer Acquisition for the past two years. In this role he was tasked with driving traffic to their three in-house brands: Force Factor, Peak Life, and Stages of Beauty. Chris now works at Internet ROI, helping companies optimize and scale their performance-based marketing.
1) Tell us about how your service works… is it really all about the ROI?
Actually, no! It’s all about maximizing profit. Our agency is different in that we only work with clients we genuinely believe can see a positive return on their online spend. Our goal is to bring each client to a point where they no longer worry about their marketing budget because it’s turning a profit. This mindset is reflected in how we approach media buying, ad layouts, landing page copy, offers, and even the billing arrangements we have with our clients.
2) With media buying being increasingly competitive, what tools do you use to get the upper edge?
I would tell everyone to invest in an ad server. That may be “Media Buying 101,” but I frequently see companies cut this corner and it ends up hurting them in the end. It’s impossible to optimize creative efficiently if you have to wait for your account manager to pull a creative down or increase the weight of a great ad. A poorly-performing ad running for an entire weekend can cost you more than an entire month’s ad serving bill.
3) What are some common traps to avoid with media buys?
Don’t try to be clever. Identify your target audience through testing and then find reliable ways to reach them. A mistake I see all too often is to hop from network to network looking for the one traffic source that will magically lower the CPA. Chances are, that time would be better spent optimizing creative or landing pages.
4) What is the most you lost on a media buy and lessons learned?
I don’t remember the actual dollar amount, but it was way too much! It was a situation where we bought a roadblock placement for a day and the performance was awful. This particular traffic source sold us similar placements in the past and had an excellent track record, but this one flopped. As tough as it is, you have to take the failures along with the successes. We’re aggressive with trying new placements and that strategy has been a net win for us. It’s important to remember that when you’re working through a tough buy.
5) How important is the relationship with account managers at ad networks, and do bribes work?
This is more important than most people realize. An account manager has 20+ clients and a limited amount of time in the day. If you’re not the first person they call when they have a new opportunity, your competition is going to get out in front of you. Being located in Boston is great because several of the large traffic sources have local offices here. Nothing beats sitting down and talking face-to-face with your account manager over lunch. We’ve never tried a bribe in the traditional sense of the word, but making sure you remember your account manager’s birthday certainly doesn’t hurt!
6) What trends are you seeing in 2013 that you plan to take advantage of?
People have been talking about mobile for the last five years, but this is the year it’s really starting to take off. The big brands are still a little timid about mobile and the longer they stand on the sidelines, the longer mobile media prices will stay suppressed.